NEW YORK — The 14-year-old boy sat on the stoop of Hookah Stop in the Bronx, blood pouring from his chest and filling his lungs, and thought: This is what it’s like to die. Moments before 11 o’clock Saturday night, the boy, Javier Payne, had been smashed through the store’s plate glass window by a police officer who had stopped him after an altercation with a man on the street, witnesses said.
The boy was bleeding critically and under arrest.
When EMS paramedics arrived at the scene they found the color draining from Payne’s face, his clothes soaked in blood and his hands cuffed behind his back. A witness described the police officers on the scene as “nonchalant” about the emergency unfolding in front of them.
“He looked like a young man who was facing down his own mortality,” said one city employee familiar with the incident. “This is a kid who was staring at his own doom. He looked like he was going to die. And if he didn’t get help when he did, he would have.”
One of the paramedics had to hold the boys chest wound closed while they rushed him to Jacobi Medical Center. Medical experts said it may have saved Payne’s life.
As he was wheeled into the emergency room Payne was shrieking: “They threw me through a glass window and now I’m going to die, I’m going to die.”
Initially, EMS did not rush to the scene because when the officers put the call over they did not indicate that there was a pediatric emergency, a source familiar with the incident said. Instead they used a protocol normally used for drunks.
The office did not issue a “sheet” — an email to the police press corps detailing newsworthy events — on the incident.
A spokesman for the police department said two teenagers were arrested, ages 13 and 14, at approximately 11 p.m. Officers charged both of the suspects with resisting arrest, obstructing governmental administration and assault. He said he could not confirm the incident involving Payne being thrown through the glass.
“It’s not listed in the report here,” he said.
He said he could not immediately confirm whether or not an investigation by the Internal Affairs Bureau was under way.
Saturday night, Payne was apprehended and placed under arrest by two patrol officers in the Little Italy section of the Bronx on a mixed residential and commercial stretch of Arthur Avenue. During the arrest, and after he was handcuffed one of the officers smashed his face through the plate glass window of the hookah shop at 2491 Ave., cutting his face and slicing open his chest and puncturing his lung, family and sources said.
The NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau has launched an investigation into the incident, according to, Javier’s mother, Cherita Payne, 50. Sunday afternoon, she said police finally allowed her to see her son, after he had undergone hours of surgery. She visited her son on the sixth floor of the hospital’s intensive care unit where she found him lying in a hospital room, incapable of moving, his face covered with fresh abrasions, two incongruously bright, white gauzes taped to his forehead and the left side of his scalp above the ear.
Her son, hooked up to tubes and wires and his head poking from beneath a crisp blanket, told her he didn’t know what was wrong with the officer who drove him through the plate glass window.
When she asked him what happened after he was injured she said her son told her: “I told them I needed to get to the hospital. I’m bleeding. I can feel the blood gushing out. Then the cops told me not to worry about it, that they were going to take me to a hospital.”
During her brief visit, two members of the department who introduced themselves as investigators from the Internal Affairs Bureau interviewed her son. They showed her son Javier pictures of police officers and asked him if he recognized any of them as the ones who had driven his head through the window.
She said he did not identify anyone during her visit.
When Javier saw his mother, he began to weep.
“Mommy, Mommy,” he said. “The cop, he pushed my head through the window while I was handcuffed, Mommy, he pushed my head through the window.”
Cherita said she tried her best to comfort him.
“I said, ‘It’s going to be all right, it’s going to be all right, I’m going to protect you,’” she said.
She began to convulse with sobs as she recounted the anecdote.
“That’s my job,” she said. “That’s my job isn’t it? That’s my job as his mother. I’m so tired of this shit, pardon my language, but I’m so tired, so tired. Help me Jesus, in the name of the Lord, help me.”
She said police officers informed her that she would need to go to the 48th precinct and get a letter of approval signed every day that she wants to visit her son again.
Javier, the youngest of seven children, is her baby, Cherita said. She described him as a typical teenager but that he is immature for his age and that he can’t make decisions on his own. She said he is trying his best to make it into the next grade.
By late afternoon Sunday, the shattered glass had been swept up and most of the blood had been sprayed on to the curb. A new pane of glass had already been installed. Gaudy lights flashed advertising the ornate water pipes behind it. Some of Paynes blood collected in puddles that ran along the curb in front of 2491 Arthur Ave. Some of it had already begin to fade indistinguishably into the sidewalk, a haphazard pattern of splotches and sprays.
Jose Perez who lives in apartments next to the hookah shop, said he left his house Saturday night to grab a soda from the store down the block when he saw the immediate aftermath of the mayhem.
“I came out and saw the the glass and the blood — it was everywhere,” Perez, 34, said. “Thank God he is going to make it. I didn’t know he was just a kid, a young guy like that. It’s a total shock to me. Why would they do that?”
He said his block of apartments and small businesses and pizza shops is peaceful, and that relations between the police and the community is unremarkable.
Nageib Aldaylam, 47, has owned and operated Hookah Stop for almost three years. He agreed with his neighbor that the neighborhood is a sleepy one.
“My friend, I never even had a gate on my store,” he said.
He said he recognized Payne but does not know him well. He said Payne and another teenager had walked into his shop before the violent confrontation with the police. Aldaylam said he came from behind his slightly elevated section behind the counter to greet the customers as his practice. He said they didn’t buy anything, but they didn’t cause any trouble.
“The kids came in normal, and they left normal,” he said. “They did zero, nothing. All the action happened outside.”
As soon as Payne and his friend stepped out of the store and back on to Arthur Avenue the police officers stopped them. He said he heard the boys and the officers arguing and that heated words were exchanged. He said they went back and forth for several minutes when he was jolted by the sound of the glass exploding.
He said the Payne was sitting on his stoop moaning: “I’m bleeding, I’m bleeding.” In the street, the squad car was parked parallel to his shop with a man in it gesturing to Payne. Aldaylam said it was his impression that the man was identifying Payne.
He said the officers questioned him while Payne sat and bled. They asked Aldaylam if he had any security footage. He told them no. And then they asked if Payne and his friend had done anything when they came into his store. Again, Aldaylam replied no.
Aldaylam added that it seemed the boys may have slipped into his store to hide from the police. When asked if he thought the police went too far in smashing Payne through his window, he shrugged.
“What happened, happened,” he said. “The truth is the truth. What more can I say?”
As she left the hospital, Cherita was less subtle about her feelings.
“You got to stop this, you got to put a stop to this,” she said. “We’ve got to stand up for ourselves, for our children. We’re human. We have rights. My kid has rights, too.”
Ronald Vails, Javier’s stepfather, said his stepson does not cut an intimidating figure.
“He’s a little guy,” said Vails, 64. “He’s 14 but he looks much smaller. There was no need for this. They said he still has pieces of glass in his lung.”
Javier’s family said Payne is part of the Persons in Need of Supervision program at MS 22 where he is in the eighth grade; she said she enlisted him to make sure he got more attention. His family said he he loves sports. He had recently taken an interest in basketball, and enjoys playing handball in local playground courts.
Vails said he played wide receiver for the Bronx Steelers, a youth league football team in the Fordham section whose mission it is to reduce violence for children and teens in the Bronx.
Vails said it is too early to tell how his injuries will affect his ability to play for the team in the future.
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